GLUTEN FREE AFTERNOON TEA AND PHOTOGRAPHY WITH LE MERIDIEN HOTEL AND RIBA
I am a firm believer in the sentiment that two parts make a whole. (I mean, it’s kinda common sense right, but let’s just go with it on a philosophical level…). Brad and Angelina, Bloggers and marble backgrounds, a horse and carriage, Lamb Pasanda and Coconut rice – not quite a famous duo but a personal favourite nonetheless – but for two parts that kinda’ make me feel whole? Afternoon tea and photography.
So when I was invited along to the Le Meridien Picadilly hotel – potentially the most stunning hotel I have ever visited – for afternoon tea and to discover their “Unlock Art” partnership with RIBA (Royal institute of British architects) it was an absolute no brainer, this was the perfect event for me.
I mean, to be totally honest, they had me at Afternoon tea…
Because of the location, the fact that there was cake involved and that half of this experience was based around photography, there are a hell of a lot of pictures, so I thought we could work through this post systematically. Sound like a plan? It does, you say? Fab, let’s do it…
Starting with the hotel, the Le Meridien Piccadilly ladies and gents.
With absolutely breath taking architecture, stunning interiors/decor and views over London’s Piccadilly, Le Meridien Piccadilly is a must see. Even if its just sitting on the roof terrace with a tipple or two – or 3, go hard or go home guys… – indulging in their Sipsmith sipping garden (which isn’t there for much longer so hurry down) it’s the perfect location for some time out.
So there’s the exterior and interior of The Terrace grill and bar where the Afternoon tea took place, if that wasn’t beautiful enough, towards the end of the post we head downstairs to The Oak room lounge which is seriously, seriously special. But for now, let’s eat cake….
All of the above (ridiculously dreamy and Instagram worthy) Sandwiches, scones and cakes were part of the Riba Afternoon tea which whilst looked incredible… were full of the devil gluten so were off the menu for me. Luckily, the incredible geniuses at Le Meridien – and the wonderful Christina who organised everything for us – had a gluten free version, and guys, I mean, I just… no words do justice to just how amazing it was. So here’s some photo’s that will hopefully display that far better than my lack of vocabulary could.
As you can see, the gluten free sandwiches came in the form of “open sandwiches” which I actually thought was a fantastic idea. Gluten free bread (especially un-toasted) really struggles to stay together meaning that actually eating a sandwich can be pretty difficult/messy. The open sandwiches, which came topped with smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, tuna and to be totally honest, I have no idea what the fourth sandwich was but it tasted incredible, were light, refreshing and so delicious. A huge thumbs up from me.
After demolishing the sandwiches and refreshing on some Assam tea – yep, I went for the breakfast tea because I’m common but the variety of tea’s were endless and so unique – I couldn’t wait any longer before diving into the scones. Now, I haven’t had the best track record with gluten free scones. Crumbly, dry and generally tasteless has been my experience thus now, however I was so chuffed – like, Tom Cruise jumping all over Oprah’s sofa kinda’ chuffed – when I cut into these scones to discover that not only did the scones not fall apart, but they were moist, full of flavour, full of raisins and just so, so tasty. With the addition of clotted cream and jam I really was in my sugar-coma’d element.
Time to move onto the cakes – and the embarrassment when everybody was getting full and I quite easily carried on demolishing every layer #trooper #thePigNextDoor – and oh my word were they something special. After taking 50 bajillion photographs of my blueberry macarons, I finally scoffed them down to discover that they were absolute perfection! Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and an amazingly creamy filling, I genuinely didn’t want them to end. Next up was the chocolate mousse which was so rich – just how I like it – and decadent followed shortly by what I *think* was a triple chocolate type dessert. By this point I had consumed all of the sugar in the world and was slightly delirious, but I polished off the predominately white chocolate pud so I think it’s safe to say that it was good.
Once we had finished being tea’d and caked wined and dined, we were then taken on a short tour of the hotel and shown artwork from the “Unlock art” exhibition – a collection, by Riba, of black and white photo’s of some of London’s most iconic landmarks – along with a little info about each piece. For a photography nerd like myself, I loved hearing about the inspirations behind each piece and plotting my next London adventures around these stunning photo’s.
Check out more of the collection by visiting RibaPix.
And then it was time to gravitate down to The Oak Room lounge to continue our workshop/completely gawp, open mouthed, over how breath taking this perfect part of the stunning hotel is. No words – that I can write, anyway – can do justice to the chandeliers of dreams and pink and gold decorated walls that looked like something out of Downton Abbey/a Disney film, so I’ll leave you with the following photo’s…
It’s totally OK to sell my soul to be able to afford to have my wedding here right? Oh great, I thought it’d be fine 😉
So that brings me to the end of this – extremely long – but hopefully very interesting/visually pleasing (let’s be real, those Macarons though…) post. A huge, huge, huge thank you to both Le Meridien and Riba for inviting me to a truly wonderful event, for filling my stomach with the best gluten free Afternoon tea I’ve eaten and helping me to discover pieces of artwork that I now want on every wall of my house!
Also, *amazing news alert*, Le Meridien are kindly offering 20% off of the Afternoon tea to any of my lovely readers that want to go – I highly recommend – so if you’re interested, all you have to do is quote “The Elle next door” and say that you read about it on my blog 🙂
As always, thank you so much for reading. I hope you enjoyed this post!